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Arriving on the Denver scene with their own unique brand of "psychedelic
The Crazed Individuals - Jed Gustafson (vocals/bass), Jimmy Baker
(guitar/vocals) and Jake Mertes (drums) - left their hometown
of Minneapolis, Minnesota in 2001 and haven't looked in a rearview
Originally formed by Gustafson and Baker during high school,
the two friends began to work on original material first, eschewing
the idea of covers. As it turned out, those first writing sessions
have proved profitable - forging the eclecticism of the band's
sound, and producing almost half of the Individual's current stage
"Jim and I were into very diverse stuff from the word go,"
Gustafson says. "I mean we listen to everything from Beethoven
to Bob Marley, Guns and Roses, AC/DC and The Misfits to Johnny
Cash and The Grateful Dead
Pink Floyd and The Doors are
heavy influences for us both
add to that a great music scene
where we grew up, with Prince, Bob Dylan, Soul Asylum, and musicians
like Paul Westerburg and The Replacements
it's pretty easy
to understand where all these different sounds came from. It comes
out pretty naturally."
The band's moniker provides the proverbial icing on the cake.
With all that momentum going in the right direction, the two
were still left scouring the local scene for just the right drummer.
"It's the age-old story," says Gustafson. "There
are a ton of excellent players in Minneapolis, and a friend of
ours was laying down some beats for us off-an-on, but it wasn't
quite right and we just couldn't seem to make that final connection
to form a solid lineup."
The answer to their dilemma came in 2000.
"I had just graduated college," recalls Gustafson,
and Jimmy was still going to music school. We'd been
getting together and doing these big jam sessions around town
with all kinds of people showing up, and Jake happened to be at
a couple of them
the jam space in St. Paul, MN, was a place
for growth for Jim and Jake. Before long the three of us began
getting together and it started sounding good, quick.
Meanwhile, in addition to their co-writing duties, Gustafson
and Baker had been busy collaborating on other plans for the future
of the act - the foremost among them being relocation.
"We decided that we wanted to try a different environment.
After traveling around enough to have seen a few places, we decided
that Denver was the logical choice. Luckily, Jake was up for the
move too, or it would've been back to square one
I moved out to Denver first and Jake followed a few months later."
When the band finally all hit town, they wasted no time in getting
back to rehearsing, pursuing bookings and getting the local music
community to sit up and begin taking notice. "We've always
been a pretty hard working outfit." Says Gustafson frankly,
and at an average of 100+ gigs a year for the past four years,
there aren't many who would argue.
The list of venues the Individuals have played since has grown
to include nearly every major rock club along Colorado's Front
Range: Herman's Hideaway, The Hard Rock Café, Larimer Lounge,
Cricket on the Hill, The Oriental Theater and Quixote's True Blue
in Denver, The World Famous Darkhorse, Catacombs, and The Foundry
in Boulder, Diamond's and Archer's in Fort Collins, and a host
of other throughout the state. The band has shared bills with
Chronophonic, Battery Park, RedLine Defiance, Full Belly, Fifth
Entity, Nic Never, Young Urban Misfits, Eddie Mac, Soul Patch,
Wanker, Danny Masters Band, Brian Hornbuckle Band, SPIV, Plastic
Parachute, Brethren Fast and local Boulder legends Firefall, as
well as co-headlining the 2003 Estes Park Colorado Rockfest -
young lions sharing the stage for the two-day event with such
legendary acts as Eric Burdon and The Animals, Steppenwolf, Bachman
Turner Over Drive, Three Dog Night, and Grand Funk Railroad. "That
was a great experience!"
The band has since taken their act farther afield, occasionally
playing close to their old stomping grounds at select clubs in
Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Minnesota, as well as sharing the bill
at the 2004 NewPalooza Festival in Black River Falls, Wisconsin,
with The Willy Waldman Project, featuring players from RatDog,
Big Wu, and Jerry Garcia Band.
In 2003 the Crazed individuals also released their self-produced,
debut album, LOSING OUR MIND - an eight-cut CD that not only highlights
the trio's clever songcraft, but their musical abilitites to expand,
explore and explode the structural possibilities of their compositions
as well. With such tracks as the sparse and trippy opener, "Fat
Toad," the monumentality of the fourteen-minute, feedback-laden
guitar rave-up, "Welcome to Looneyville
" and the
off-center title track itself - a cut that sounds a bit like Syd
Barrett taking a final trip downstream somewhere to an arguably
more hopeful place than he found - LOSING OUR MIND is a warning
shot aimed at a music industry that seems to have forgotten that
its future would be better served by savvy young musicioans who
become stars, not stars who might become musicians. Luckily, for
the Individuals, signs seem to be pointing to a brighter future
for everyone concerned.
"Good things are happening,' Gustafson muses. "We're
constantly gigging and our fan-base keeps growing steadily. RockDenver.com
and M&L Post Productions is producing a DVD and music video
for the Crazed. Look for "Wicklow Pen" the music video
on MTV and VH1 soon, if you don't see it, call those muthaf*ckas
and politely ask them to play our video, thanks. We're currently
working hard on getting a live album together which is being produced
by ex-Porno For Pyros guitarist Peter DiStefano, as well as planning
a Spring tour of the West Coast and Midwest
"If you want to rock and roll, go see the Crazed Individuals."